How far have we come? Here’s a to-do list,

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - CONTENTS - writes Ruth Spencer.

How far have we come? Here’s a to-do list, writes Ruth Spencer.

Some­times it’s hard to be a woman, such as all the time. There are big, se­ri­ous in­equal­i­ties that get their own hash­tags but it can be the lit­tle. daily things that get you down. They’re the resid­ual an­noy­ances of the (yes, still) pa­tri­ar­chal so­ci­ety in which we drudge. Mannoyances, if you will. Here are just some of the lin­ger­ing mannoyances and how to fix them.

Pink tax

Things mar­keted to women cost more. Ra­zors, painkillers, shower gel, glass ceil­ing pol­ish: any­thing wrapped in glit­tery pink plas­tic is just a lit­tle bit more ex­pen­sive. And why not? Glit­ter is the poor woman’s di­a­mond — and you want to sup­port fair con­di­tions in the glit­ter mines, don’t you? Okay, we’re not idiots, we can buy the men’s ver­sion — but what we save on soap goes down the drain in the fem­i­nine hy­giene aisle. If you can af­ford san­i­tary prod­ucts, you’ll pay the equiv­a­lent of two carats of Michael Hill’s finest over your life­time. Many women can’t and have to DIY in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions, such as stay­ing home. Our grand­moth­ers may have used rags but th­ese days there’s very lit­tle ab­sorbency in a cast-off polyamide bralette.

Who’s to blame? Mar­keters, price-goug­ing cap­i­tal­ists, us for not want­ing a ra­zor that looks like it es­caped from the Soviet bloc, us for want­ing to leave the house ev­ery day of the month.

So­lu­tion: Equalise the price of equiv­a­lent goods, take the GST off san­i­tary prod­ucts and fund them en­tirely — at least for girls still at school, make pink glit­ter stan­dard and make navy blue cost ex­tra — although this would re­sult in navy blue be­ing mar­keted to women as this sea­son’s pop of dull­ness.

Ban the van

There’s a litany of dis­as­ter-pre­ven­tion rules for women. Don’t leave your drink unat­tended, hold your keys stick­ing out from your fin­gers like a bud­get Wolver­ine, if it’s af­ter dark, try to not ex­ist. Some­times you hear a new one and you re­alise you’ve been un­wit­tingly liv­ing on the edge this whole time. In Amer­ica it’s stan­dard fe­male wis­dom to not park too near a van. Now that you know this, sorry: it will form part of your daily risk as­sess­ment. You’ll sec­ond-guess that con­ve­nient park be­cause of the sketchy Kombi with the painted-out win­dows in the next space. Ex­cit­ingly, you won’t know if you’re be­ing op­pressed by ac­tual risk, or just the pre­sumed need for con­stant vig­i­lance. Like the taco ad says, why not both? Would it help to know that the Volk­swa­gen van ac­tu­ally is the tra­di­tional choice of se­rial killers as well as harm­less surf dudes with fes­ti­val hair? No?

Who’s to blame? Se­rial killers, vic­tim-blam­ing fear­mon­ger­ing, Volk­swa­gen, Trump prob­a­bly.

So­lu­tion: Pa­trolled, well-lit, women-only car parks. Free shut­tle ser­vices from bus stops. Ac­tual adaman­tine knuckle im­plants so we have some­thing sharper than keys to wield in an emer­gency.

Find­ing a seat

While ev­ery­one seems happy for women to spend ex­tra dol­lars on pink ra­zors, they’re less in­ter­ested in us spend­ing a penny. There are never enough women’s toi­lets, es­pe­cially at event venues. What­ever’s hap­pen­ing on­stage, in the Ladies it’s al­ways a Game of Thrones. One of you acts as a hu­man wedge hold­ing the heavy outer door for a line stretch­ing into the lobby; the rest of you stare glumly into a flu­o­res­cent-washed mir­ror. What is she do­ing in there? But we know what she’s do­ing be­cause we’ve been her: clean­ing up a la­dymer­gency or fight­ing back an­gry tears try­ing to get her Spanx back up or just star­ing at the san­i­tary bin won­der­ing why they thought cin­na­mon was an in­of­fen­sive scent. Who’s to blame? Ar­chi­tects, plan­ners and bud­get-crunch­ers, who­ever sets the length of in­ter­vals, the con­tor­tions it takes to get out of a play­suit in a tiny space where you want noth­ing you own to touch the floor, that damn third pros­ecco. So­lu­tion: Do away with dis­gust­ing uri­nals and en­cour­age sitz­plinken, the Ger­man art of men sit­ting to pee. A sitz­plinker will not pee on the seat, so ev­ery­one’s home life will im­prove. Once men have to queue too, the­atres will fi­nally grasp the full im­por­tance of bums on seats.

Rom­pers are for romp­ing

We live in a sun-kissed, open-air par­adise, which is to say a UV in­cin­er­a­tion cham­ber. The of­fi­cial ad­vice is to cover up, but the shops seem to think spaghetti straps are the only op­tion for lit­tle girls. You’d never see a Thomas the Tank En­gine top with a flirty Bar­dot neck­line, but slap Peppa Pig on it and sud­denly it needs a bare shoul­der. Clothes should be fit for pur­pose, and the pur­pose of a tod­dler is to get dirty and say “No” a lot while climb­ing the wrong way up the slide. Who’s to blame? De­sign­ers who think mak­ing a baby look “fem­i­nine” is more im­por­tant than sun safety, Peppa Pig.

So­lu­tion: Rash vests as day­wear, way more light­weight long-sleeve shirts with syn­di­cated char­ac­ters on them, trust­wor­thy chil­dren’s sun­screens with­out nanopar­ti­cles or en­docrine dis­rup­tors, an end to Peppa Pig — please, by all that’s holy, make it stop.


On pub­lic trans­port the lit­tle spa­ces where our legs and arms re­side are pre­cious ter­ri­tory. For many of us it’s the only real es­tate we’ll ever come close to own­ing. Manspread­ing is the prac­tice of let­ting your legs splay be­yond the in­vis­i­ble — but very real — bor­ders of your seat edge. It grotesquely im­plies that part of you needs the room but it states out­right that you don’t care about the com­fort of your neigh­bours. Your en­tire body is be­ing a dick.

Who’s to blame? Any­one who thinks it’s big­ger than it is. Even an SUV fits in a reg­u­lar space. Vans too, even if no one wants to sit next to them.

So­lu­tion: Lasers. Frick­ing laser beams that slice the air into des­ig­nated chunks. Breach the beam and set off an alarm, or pos­si­bly sear off a piece of flesh de­pend­ing on the strict­ness of your pub­lic trans­port provider.

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